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    #1

    past perfect with 'before' and 'after'

    Hello,

    I'd like to ask a question about the past perfect. I do not understand the tense usage in these two sentences:

    (1) Joe lived in London for a year before he got married
    (2) After I had posted the letter, I felt much better

    I think I won't make a mistake if I use "had lived" in (1) and "posted" in (2), will I? How can I explain the usage of the past perfect in the latter and the past simple in the former if both 'after' and 'before' make the sequence of events clear?

    Thank you.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: past perfect with 'before' and 'after'

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    I'd like to ask a question about the past perfect. I do not understand the tense usage in these two sentences:

    (1) Joe lived in London for a year before he got married
    (2) After I had posted the letter, I felt much better

    I think I won't make a mistake if I use "had lived" in (1) Correct

    and "posted" in (2), will I? Correct

    How can I explain the usage of the past perfect in the latter and the past simple in the former if both 'after' and 'before' make the sequence of events clear?
    As I have said so often in these forums, native speakers are not so particular about following the 'rules' for the past perfect as some course books would have us believe. If the sequence of actions is clear, as it normally is with 'before' and 'after', then we don't always feel an instinctive drive to the past perfect

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    #3

    Re: past perfect with 'before' and 'after'

    Thank you

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    #4

    Re: past perfect with 'before' and 'after'

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    As I have said so often in these forums, native speakers are not so particular about following the 'rules' for the past perfect as some course books would have us believe. If the sequence of actions is clear, as it normally is with 'before' and 'after', then we don't always feel an instinctive drive to the past perfect
    I am afraid that "course books" reflect the English tests people are required to pass.
    American English is perhaps a bit more flexible, but unfortunately, here in Europe ESOL tests accept "He had lived in London for many years before he got married" and regard other alternatives as dispreferred.
    I feel we should keep this in mind when replying to students.
    Of course natural everyday English is much more flexible, but perhaps we should not forget that students turn to these forums to get some help with their homework and with exam preparation too.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: past perfect with 'before' and 'after'

    Quote Originally Posted by marybs View Post
    ...unfortunately, here in Europe ESOL tests accept "He had lived in London for many years before he got married"
    Why 'unfortunately'? It's correct! It's simply that many native speakers use the equally acceptable past simple.
    and regard other alternatives as dispreferred.
    Do you have any evidence for that claim?
    Of course natural everyday English is much more flexible, but perhaps we should not forget that students turn to these forums to get some help with their homework and with exam preparation too.
    In that case, perhaps we should avoid words such as 'disprefer', which appears in none of the 129 dictionaries here?
    5

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: past perfect with 'before' and 'after'

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    As I have said so often in these forums, native speakers are not so particular about following the 'rules' for the past perfect as some course books would have us believe.
    That's true, but I think it would be better expressed as, "Some course books are not so particular about expressing the real rules that native speakers use to choose when to use the past perfect.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: past perfect with 'before' and 'after'

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    That's true, but I think it would be better expressed as, "Some course books are not so particular about expressing the real rules that native speakers use to choose when to use the past perfect.
    Much better.

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